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Resolution Recipe 7: Almond Date Breakfast Bars


Getting caught up on recipes and posts before school starts up so here’s the last one I have in the queue that I’m getting around to posting about. 20140825_215216 These bars are really easy to make but they do require a few different ingredients you probably don’t have in your pantry. These include dates and wheat germ. I definitely had to make a stop a Sprouts to pick up these items as well as the oats, almond butter and almonds since I didn’t have those in my pantry either. I thought I had whole wheat flour on hand but I didn’t. This always seems to happen to me with one ingredient! You would think I would have learned by now, but nope. I’m learning to be the substitution queen. In this case I felt lucky because whole wheat flour seems like an easy thing to replace with regular flour. However, I’m wondering now if it would have helped with holding them together since it is more course then regular flour. Noted for next time. 20140825_215438 I was able to find pitted dates at Sprouts so I encourage you to try and find the same if you can since I imagine pitting these guys is not the easiest thing to do since they are a bit on the sticky side when cutting into them. I have to be honest. These look like bugs to me….cockroaches to be exact….so I pretty much never eat them if I can help it, let alone work with them. I got over my squeamishness a little bit working on this recipes, but just know the sacrifice it took for me to do this you guys….it was a big one. (Dramatic much…:) 20140825_221817   Recipe is easy…combine dry ingredients as seen above. Then…. 20140825_223325   Combine your dry ingredients until you reach the smooth texture you see here.

This is the point in the recipe where things went a little south for me…unfortunately. I’m learning the ropes in my parents kitchen since I recently moved home. (Side note…had to move from Whittier to Corona because they are selling the house I lived in. Sad to leave but happy to have a place to transition to while I figure out where I’ll live next. Rent free and nice kitchen to cook in is a super bonus, but commute to work/school went up so we’ll see how long I last). Being in this new kitchen has been lovely. More surfaces to use and better kitchen supplies on hand…all great. What is not great is the bummer process of learning how you mother stores her ingredients the hard way. She has an olive oil bottle (seen pictured above with ingredients) that HAS been used for olive oil in the past. I swear! Recently she put a different kind of oil in there…thinking canola oil….and uses olive oil straight out of the bottle. *sigh*. And guess who did not smell the oil to make sure it was right?! Yep yep, this novice right here. Lesson learned.

20140825_223447I sadly ended up using the canola oil which, let’s face it, does not taste as good as olive oil. As soon as I poured it in the bowl I knew I had done something wrong because the smell was more of the oil used in deep frying and I had pictures of deep fried treats dancing through my mind as soon as the smell hit my nose. NOT the taste or smell you want associated with your healthy breakfast bars. I kept hoping that the taste would not be affected, but sadly it really was. It had an unfortunately greasy taste to it and I don’t think that’s what we were going for with these. Ugh. 20140825_223655 Back to the recipe…after you get the creamy consistency of your wet ingredients you’ll combine it with the dry and mix until well coated. You’ll pour that into the pan and do your best to press the mixture down into the pan to make it as compact as you’re able. I do not think I did as good of a job at this as I could have. I know that would have made the difference in how well they were able to stay together in the end so learn from my mistake please!20140825_223951 Deb gives a suggestion to do two crisscross pieces of foil or parchment paper to help with removing the bars after they have cooked. Doing this also makes for an easier clean up with all the oil you’re using as well so I suggest you take her tip. 20140825_230658 You won’t notice a major change in color once it come out but the oats will be a bit more brown like an apple crisp (my only real comparison…haha). She suggests that you let them cool inside the pan for a bit and then to take them out with your foil and place them on a cooling rack before cutting them. I did try to do this but when I went to take them out, they began to break apart. I was able to do it in part to get a picture but they are pretty fragile.  I ran into the same problem the next day so I wasn’t able to really cut them into easily removable bars that would hold up long term. Again, I’m sure this was due to me not packing them in very well so there is hope for success next time. 20140825_233144Instead of keeping them in crumbly bars, I ended up breaking them up into the chunks of granola they were naturally falling into. I figured the crumbles would make good bite sized versions. It would also be a good yogurt topping as well if you’re a yogurt lover.  The think I loved about these clusters/bars that is different from anything I’ve had is the orange zest! It’s a different but lovely flavor to have in bars like these. I might also want to add dried cranberries when making these again since they would complement the freshness of the orange. Can’t wait to try them again with all the right ingredients!

RECIPE:

Once again I’m flying and not able to post the recipe without the book so I’m redirecting you to another blogger who has done the recipe and an excellent job of taking pictures of what it SHOULD look like! Check out the details on the blog Cafe Carol.

Thanks for reading everyone! Next post will be about my foodie adventures in Delaware and Philadelphia! I got to check something off my Philadelphia bucket list while I was there so I’m excited to pool my pictures and share about my good eats from my trip.

Also, if you’re a fellow Pinner, be sure to check out some of the stuff I’m pinning on the Novice Cook Diaries Pinterest Boards  if you haven’t already! Tell me which boards have the tastiest looking recipes and if I get enough feedback and I’ll pick a recipe from that board and give it a try.

Follow Novice Cook Diaries on Pinterest!

 

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Resolution Recipe 6: Chocolate Chip Brioche Pretzels


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I am not going to lie…this recipe killed me in so many ways. I earn my novice status with many recipes but my badge should be gold after making these. I know they may look like pretzels and they may even look good to the untrained eye, but I had so many issues with this recipe, I just want to spill my guts and get it over with…and pray they turn out better if I ever dare to try again…ugh.20140308_135337

Ingredients are minimal and you probably have everything you need in the pantry unless you’re like me and don’t keep chocolate ships in your pantry because that isn’t a healthy decision!

As grumpy as I am even typing this up, I do have some thoughts on what might have gone wrong for me….

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YEAST: I hate working with yeast sometimes. It’s so temperamental. It always feels like such an amazing victory to see your bread rise after you’ve been standing in the kitchen  biting your fingernails watching the dough like a worried mother. I guess these guys rose better then they could have but the consistency of the dough was like clay or even Play Dough and not at all soft like I would have expected to see for pretzel dough. So, while it’s possible I killed the yeast or that it was too old to be nice to me, I actually wonder if it wasn’t something else…

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MIXING: Guys this was a total disaster! The recipe says to mix it for like 10 min (I might be exaggerating, but I don’t have the recipe in front of me while I type this…) and within 2 min it was so tough that the mixer was literally skipping and hopping on the counter top. *sigh*. 20140308_141753

 

This is a picture of me holding the top down because it was not wanting to stay put. The dough hook had a terrible time working the dough and I was 100% sure I was going to have to apologize to my room mate for breaking her very expensive mixer and then some how replace it with the money I don’t even have to buy my own. Nightmare. I have no idea how I would have been able to mix it for the amount of time they suggest. But things got worse when I added…

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BUTTER: Oh geez. Imagine putting clay in your Kitchen Aid and then adding butter. Imagine with me for a second what that mess would look like. A greasy mess! That’s what it looks like. The dough was not able to absorb the butter (as you can see above) but it did start to soften it a bit out of the hard rocky ball that it had been previously. I continued to run the mixer, hoping it would improve and while it did show some signs of  improvement, but I was really discouraged by what I was seeing.

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Things seemed to shape up a bit after I added the chocolate chips. You can see below that it’s looking more like cookie dough and less like a wet buttery mess. Score!

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Back to the bad news…the dough totally didn’t rise. It looked like this after the set amount of time for raising. It was not yeasty and squishy like other doughs are. It should have been fluffy and doubled. It was not. I decided that this situation might end up a little bit like those experiences you have at the hair dresser getting a cut or style….you know that moment….about 10 min in to your new quaff you  inwardly start groaning thinking the person doesn’t know what they are doing and they didn’t listen and you’re going to look terrible!!!….and then…you just let them finish…haha. The relief ! All is right in the world. They get to keep their jobs and you’re happy….I was hoping these hopeless guys would turn out the same way with a little time and patience…soooo…ONWARD!

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Because I let my dough raise in the oven (dumb choice) the chocolate chips got nice and melted which turned the dough the chocolate color you see. These should be more like a chocolate brioche pretzels since you can’t see the chips in there but we’re going to keep the name the same for consistency sake. 20140308_181811

 

I started to work out the dough by rolling it out into long snake like strips before I started twisting it. Twisting it got easier once I figured out you need to twist the two ends together a few times before pressing them into the curve of the base and that you’ll have more twisting space in the dough the longer you make them.

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I decided to have gravity help me out since the dough was pretty thick and kind of hard to work with.  That seemed to do the trick to get them the length I needed. I believe I divided the dough into rounds based on the serving size so I know what I had to work with for each pretzel. That helped them all be about the same size and shape when all was said and done. 20140308_184001

The egg was you put on them makes them look a little more exciting then the chocolaty marbled dough. This is what they looked like before a trip into the oven…moment of truth folks! Wasn’t sure what I was about to get….


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Well I guess you kind of already saw them at the beginning of the post (sorry for the spoiler after this dramatic interpretation of my experience!) but here they are in all their pretzely glory! I am really happy to say that they actually had a bready (…making up words here, friends…) consistency and tasted very much of chocolate which seems like a good place to be at the end of making this recipe. They are far from as lovely looking as Deb’s are and are not even sort of the best pretzels I’ve ever had…but…they are mine and I am happy with them. They were pretty sweet so they make a good after dinner treat.

I would love to try these again and see what I can do about fixing that rubbery dough. Deb has not blogged this recipe but I’ve found another happy Perelmanite fan like me who has the recipe posted on her blog as well as her review of the cookbook. Check out Think Well. Love well. Dine Well.

If you have tried something like this before or know what I might have wrong, would you be kind enough to tell me! I get a little nervous at the thought of doing this again, but I know there has to be redemption out there for me to find for these pretzels. It will happen :)

Coming up next…Almond Date Breakfast Bars and hopefully restaurant or dish reviews. As I type, I am on the way to Delaware to visit my best friend! I hope to do some fun food reviews of my travels around Delaware and Pennsylvania. I had some majorly good eats last time I was here and can’t wait to see what other goodies I get to try!

Weight Watchers Update: Ladies and gentleman I am 1 lb away from having lost 10% of my original body weight. I have been circling the 10% mark for the past 3 weeks and while I was hoping to hit it sometime in August, I’ve decided that with this trip, my upcoming birthday and school starting that I need to let my routine settle a bit before I beat myself too much. I’m still doing all I can to eat right and plan to keep it up but this plateau might just need a jump start with routine change to get me back in the loss. What a way to spend the summer :) I’m happy with the progress I’ve made. I’ll made these before I started weight watchers so I don’t know the points, but if I remember I’ll come back and post it.

Blessings, friends!

 

 

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Resolution Recipe 5: Whole-Wheat Raspberry Ricotta Scones



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Back to the blogging! Feels like it’s been awhile, but oddly enough I’ve been in the kitchen more then usual so I have a few posts coming your way. Let’s start with this one!

I made these scones back on February 1st. I think I made more mistakes with these then I would have liked, but let’s learn a few things from my failures, shall we? You can find the recipe on Deb’s Website along with her notes on how she came about the idea.

 

RECIPE: Whole Wheat Raspberry Ricotta Scones 

Ingredients 2

 

Ingredient Notes

Baking Powder:

Deb has a note about Baking Powder in her book. When shopping for baking powder make sure to find one that is Aluminum Free. You can see in the picture above the Argo brand I chose. Deb’s note on the aluminum free suggests that, “Some bakers feel that aluminum contributes to a ‘metallic’ or ‘tinny’ taste in baked goods that use large volumes of baking powder, such as biscuits, scones, and muffins. She has also found that baking powders with aluminum in them are more likely to discolor or give a blue-green tint to baked goods with fruit in them, such as these scones (pg xiii).” I assuming the acid in the fruit is what’s going to cause that discoloration but you would have to ask someone who actually knows a thing or two about. How about a French pastry chef? Yeah, that works…check out David Lebovitz’s post on Baking Powder and read up on the benefits.

For those of you who might have a hard time finding it, Deb also offers a recipe for aluminum free baking soda in her “Notes and Tips” section of the book….mix 1/4 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp cream of tarter, and 1/4 tsp corn starch to make 1 tsp of baking powder (can find that on xiii in her introduction).

I didn’t have a difficult time finding it but if you want to make it go for it. I never have Cream of Tarter in my ingredients so I couldn’t make it if I wanted to!

 

Mixing 2

 

Raspberries:

Caution with the Raspberries! I don’t know how she was so careful with her raspberries because my dough was pretty pink while hers seems to have flecks of pink. I believe I used the Kitchen Aid to mix them in but it would have been better to to fold them in with a spatula or spoon. You do want the berries to break up a bit but try not to over stir where the berries are breaking and coloring your dough.

dough 2

Flour:

I definitely over floured the dough. Definitely. I put them on the pan with more then a little too much flour and mostly because the dough is very moist. Moisture in dough is fantastic, especially scone dough, because it can be on the dry side which makes scones dense. This recipe boast the opposite as you’ll read in Deb’s post on her site and it’s surely the ricotta cheese that helps with that. She mentions being generous with the flour, but don’t do what I did and over use it for fear of the dough being to wet.

Because I put so much flour on the scones as I was rolling them and cutting them, they ended up very floury when they went in the oven. The end result is a burnt flour funkiness on the bottoms of the scones (sorry, I forgot to take a picture) and the tops need to be brushed off a bit. Instead you might try to find the balance of allowing the scone to be both moist and yet controlled a bit with the flour. If I get it right and find a magic trick to this, then I’ll make sure to update! Next time, I would really try to brush the flour off the bottom before putting them in the oven. I imagine that would make an improvement. Squares

 

Review of Recipe:

These are good, but I don’t think I did them very well. I really want a redo on them. I am not the biggest scone eater either so I was hoping for my mind to be changed. I would be very interested to hear a bit from those who do like scones and have tried this recipe. What do you think??? For my WW friends, you can enjoy these scones for 6 Points a piece at the normal yield of 9, two-inch square scones. If you make the scones a bit smaller you can cut those points in half for 3 a piece. Not bad for a pastry.

I am also learning that I’m not a fan of baking with whole-wheat flour. I use King Arthur brand since that seems to be the only one I find when I shop for it. Not sure if it’s the brand, the recipe, or the cook :) but I am not a big fan. I would be up for trying this with a 2nd cup of AP flour and pulling out the whole wheat flour to see if I like it better. I know that baking is a science so I would hate to alter it too much but it’s worth a try.

Hope you give these a try and please post a review if you have one yourself!

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COMING UP NEXT:

Home made Salsa, Chocolate Chip Brioche Pretzels, and Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies…sounds good doesn’t it?!

 

 

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Resolution Recipe 4: Gingerbread Spice Dutch Baby


Final DBIf you’re looking for a simple and fun breakfast idea that is outside of the norm, then try this little guy. Such a quick and easy thing to throw together and the sky is the limit for what you can add Deb has one on her website that is great for this season since cherries are plentiful …check it out (Cherry Almond Dutch Baby). Serving size is 1 to 2 people. If you’re a WW person then probably you should share since it’s a bit higher in points. Ingredients

Ingredients for this recipe include: 

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon unsulfured molasses
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Confectioner’s sugar, maple syrup, or heavy cream, to serve.

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Run the eggs in a blender until they are pale in color. Blender with Eggs
  • Add remaining ingredients except butter and confectioners’ sugar and process until smooth.

Blender with all ingredients

  • Melt the butter over high heat in a 9 inch ovenproof skillet and swirl it up the sides, making sure the pan is nicely coated. Butter in Pan
  • Pour the batter into the prepared skillet, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Cake in PanPan in Oven 2
  • Slide pancake onto a plate. Serve with powdered sugar maple syrup, maple syrup, and/or a drizzle of heavy cream. finished in ovenOn Plate from side 1

I don’t have any tips or tricks for this one other then just follow the directions and it will turn out great. This is a rarity that I get a recipe right the first time but I’ll take it. WEIGHT WATCHERS MODIFICATIONS: For those of you doing weight watchers with me I recommend splitting this guy with someone so it’s only 9 points for you since it’s 18 for the whole thing (not counting syrup or confectioners sugar). One modification I thought of is not using butter but spraying the pan down with a low point spray. The butter probably helps give it flavor but also keeps it from sticking so that would be a 6 point reduction making it 14 points so 7 for half (but make sure to count the spray you use).

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Resolution Recipe 3: Plum Poppy Seed Muffins



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Plum Poppy Seed Muffins

Okay, we’re back in business! Happy to be blogging once again. Thanks for your patience loyal readers. I hope this is worth it!

I actually just made these muffins yesterday because even though this recipe was next in the book (back in January),  it wasn’t plum season. I figured I would postpone this recipe and come back to it in the summer…well…summer is here. What a coincidence! Small advantages for not having time to blog!

These muffins were pretty easy and delicious. They yield about 12 muffins according to the recipe, but in honor of making things more Weight Watchers friendly, I decided to make mini muffins instead. Using a Tablespoon I was able to make 37 muffins.

 

TIPS: 20140613_1902241. CHOOSING PLUMS: I would make sure to use plums that are not tart or sour. She says you can use any kind of plum ( I guess I didn’t realize there were other kinds then the reddish ones I see in the store, but there are….even Italian plums! Wanna see some pictures?? Click here) I mistakenly used the first ones I bought at Wal-mart and didn’t really make sure to buy those which were sweeter and riper. How does one do that you ask…well let me tell you. According to the helpful blog entitled “Just Plums” you do not look for plums with your eyes, but with your nose. They indicate that plums that are ripe and un-ripe are the same color. They say that a ripe plum will smell sweet and fruity where an unripened plum is not going to have a smell to it at all. Other sites mention that the plum will have a give to it if you press on it and the opposite is true for an unripened plum. If you have unripened plums that you want to use for this recipe, refer to the post from WikiHow about “How to Ripen a Plum.” I found this very helpful….AFTER doing this recipe. Yes, I’m proving very much to be the novice I claim to be when I do stuff like research the ingredients after I work with them.

2. MINI MUFFINS: Yes, mini muffins are just mini versions of muffins. 20140613_195557It’s not magic at all. However, if you are wanting to watch your waistline or you’re a WW point counter, then mini muffins are the way to go. This recipe went from 5 points a muffin to about 2 points a muffin if you yield 37 muffins when you only use a tablespoon of batter. I highly recommend this as an alternative because as WW people know, 2 point snacks are the best things to have on hand. You can still use the same recipe and enjoy, but in moderation that works for you.20140613_193049

3. MAKING BROWN BUTTER: I love that Deb Perelman simplifies what sounds like a potentially scary process of browning…not burning…butter. In her cookbook she takes you to a dessert recipe to learn how to make the brown butter. Her suggestions are as follows on page 202 of her cookbook:

  1. Using a pot, heat the pan to medium low heat
  2. Drop in your butter
  3. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden, and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty.
  4. Stir frequently, scrapping up any bits from the bottom as you do.
  5. Don’t take your eyes off the pot. You may be impatient for it to start browning, but the period between the time the butter begins to take on color and the point where it burns is often less than a min.

She has a lot of other tips and tricks but I have to leave something for you to read when you buy her cookbook!

REVIEW: I think you’ll love this recipe any time of the year. I love how it’s summer but with the smell of cinnamon and nutmeg I felt transported to fall with one waft of amazing from the oven. I would love to see how these turn out with other kinds of fruit. I happen to find the most sour/tart plums on the earth that were most definitely under ripe…now that I know what to be looking for…ugh. The great thing about this recipe is that the sweetness of the muffin batter helps balance out the sourness of the plums so be encouraged if you too end up making these with a few bad plums. You might actually like the way they turn out! Hope you give these a try this summer. You won’t be disappointed and they are fun change to the muffins we all know and love.

Happy baking, friends!

 

PLUM POPPY SEED MUFFIN RECIPE

Ingredients

YIELDS 12 MUFFINS (5 WW Points) , 37 MINI MUFFINS ( 2 WW Points)

6 T. unsalted butter, melted and browned and cooled, plus butter for muffins cups

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1/4 c. granulated sugar

1/4 c packed dark or light brown sugar

1/4 c. sour cream or a rich, full-fat plan yogurt (WW: use light/low fat sour cream to keep muffins low points)

1/2 c. whole-wheat flour

1 c. all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp table salt

Pinch of ground cinnamon

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

2 T. poppy seeds

2 cups pitted and diced plums from about 3/4 pound of Italian prune plums (though any plum variety will do). (NOTE: If doing mini muffins, consider doing 1 1/2 cups instead).

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Butter muffin tins
  3. Whisk egg and sugars in bowl
  4. Stir in brown butter than sour cream
  5. In separate bowl, mix flours, bp, bs, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and poppy seeds
  6. Stir dry  mixture gradually into wet mixture “until it is just combined and still a bit lumpy.”
  7. Fold in plums
  8. Divide batter into cups.
  9. Bake for 10 -12 min (mini muffins) 15-18 (regular size muffins)
  10. Allow to cool in pan for a few min before removing to cool on rack

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Resolution Recipe 2: Cinnamon Toast French Toast



Final Plating 2

Recipe 2 is complete and I’m excited to say how easy this resolution has been so far. It’s always a major drag to start a New Year’s Resolution and within the first week you know just how hard it is going to be to keep it up.

However, before I get too excited, let’s consider that I’m still on vacation, school hasn’t started back up yet, and I am not back to my regularly scheduled program. Who cares…I’m going to continue to be optimistic about this one!

On the brighter side, I’ve had more viewers, visitors, and new subscribers  to my blog generated off my last post then I’ve ever had. Don’t get me wrong…we’re not talking bunches and bunches (more like 3 or 4) but everyone has to start somewhere. Thank you new subscribers for making my week exciting! To those of you who decided that I might have something interesting to say about food…I warn you…I probably do not. But if you like a little comedic relief in your life, I do believe this blog may meet your needs with my questionable writing, overly detailed anecdotes, and dumb cooking mistakes. I’ll take any audience. But seriously…thank you. It is fun to do this whether people are reading it or not, but it makes it a ton more fun to share the experience with others.

Recipe Number 2: Cinnamon Toast French Toast

(from Deb Perelman’s The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook [smittenkitchen.com])

You can read Deb’s original post about this recipe by clicking here. You’ll get to see just how fun she is with her easy to read instructions and beautiful photography. I’ll let you check that out for her exact recipe and instructions.

For this post, I just wanted to show-and-tell about my adaptations to her recipe that went well and…not so well.
Tray of cin toastFirst of all, I decided to half Deb’s recipe since I was just cooking for myself. I’m glad I did this because it produced enough breakfast for me to enjoy for the next few days but not the next few weeks! We’ll see how it heats up tomorrow to see whether it’s left over worthy.

Instead of the suggested 16 slices of toast I only did 8 and used parchment paper to lay it out. I have never done toast in bulk like this, but it was so easy that I do believe it will be my new method for toasting (…the art of toast making of course…) if I’m ever cooking breakfast for an army. I just need to remember 450 degrees for 7-10 min. 7 min was perfect in my oven.

Toast with Custard 2

Deb has a very long explanation of how you should cut your toast and place it in the pan. I was reading it through with a scowl  on my face because I thought…”Why in the world is she telling me how to cut and place the toast in the pan like it’s a Jenga column?? It’s french toast for goodness sake…you just put it in the pan and call it a day!” (If you read her directions you’ll know what I mean) Well, she’s not being a pest by telling you to cut and place your toast like that in your pan. You’ll see in my picture that I just cut all the pieces in half and filled my pan. What you’ll notice about hers that is different from mine is that you can see all the pieces of toast in her pan from the middle to the top. More on what I think that was all about towards the end…

Flipped and soaked toast with custard 2

Final plating 1I was a little concerned that the “custard” to toast ratio was going to be way off.  Splitting the recipe in half was not a big deal but when she says the toast needs to sit 15 min to soak up the custard, I was not totally sold that it was actually going to happen. Be encouraged! It does indeed happen. If you notice in the picture, the custard reaches about 3/4 the way up the cut toast in the pan. You’ll see the next picture was taken after 15 min or so when the custard had saturated the toast. To help it along, I did flip the toast from crust side up to cut side up. That seemed to help soak up the last of the custard so the bottom of the pan was nearly dry. 

Something that Deb says in her recipe is to butter your pan well. I thought I had buttered my pan just fine, but I ended up having quite a bit the toast sticking to the bottom and a ton of fun scrubbing that pan afterwards. Since I had crust side down, many of the pieces I pulled out were less then attractive so do yourself a favor and do as she asks. Butter liberally…even if there are chunks of butter on the side. Who cares anyways…it’s butter!

Okay back to the crazy instructions on cutting and placing your toast in the pan…I think Deb suggests you cut and lay your toast in such a way so that you don’t end up with soggy bread. I think mine was a little softer then I would have liked it for french toast, and I’m thinking that if the pieces had been more exposed, they would have firmed up better. My trouble was in having a pan big/small enough to allow me to set up my toast to look pretty like hers. The 9×13 was way too big for half the recipe so I settled for a square casserole dish which held all the pieces just fine (if you sandwiched them against each other like I did!) but was not a good set up for her method. It might be worth making the whole recipe if you don’t have a small enough pan…or halving the recipe again to fit the small pan. I’ll have to let you know how it works as left overs to help you decide what the best idea is for you.

Overall, I REALLY liked this way of making french toast. Her recipe is delicious and it came out to be the best french toast I’ve ever made since the flavors were so much better set into the dish then I’m use to. If you want an easy do-ahead breakfast then Deb has some tips for you about how to go about doing that this dish.

I hope you give her recipe a try. You won’t be disappointed!

COMING UP NEXT….I’ll be attempting Deb’s next recipe which is a Gingerbread Spice Dutch Baby….wow, right? That just sounds super impressive. I think we are wandering quickly out of…”I’ve got this” territory to….”uh-oh…do I even have all the kitchen items required to make this/what the heck is a Dutch Baby??”. Looks like I’m going to have to invest in both a blender and an iron skillet before I make this recipe next weekend. I may be calling my sister to tell her I’m coming to her house to make breakfast Saturday morning since it may not be in my budget to buy new supplies just yet. I’ll let you know how that turns out…haha.

Happy cooking readers! If you haven’t already done so, please take the poll about this New Years Resolution adventure!

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Resolution Recipe 1: Peachy Sour Cream Pancakes!


Final ProductHappy New Year! Hope you had a wonderful time celebrating with family and friends!

It’s time to get started with resolutions and I’m happy to say that I’ve made it into day two and been mostly successful….I’ll take it :o) As you know (since you’re a faithful follower of this blog…), one of my New Year’s resolutions is to do something I’ve always wanted to do and that is cook through a cookbook, cover to cover. Refer to my last post for details of this fun adventure and get excited that you’re reading blog post numero uno, folks! The journey begins now….

I think I haven’t actually cooked anything since August so this post is long in coming! I’m a little rusty in the kitchen but I’m ready to get start working on this NYR, so let’s do this!

Peach and Sour Cream Pancakes PagesRecipe Number 1: Peach and Sour Cream Pancakes (inspired by Deb Perelman’s The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook) Read more from her blog at : http://smittenkitchen.com/

Peaches! Delicious right? Well, leave it to me to pick a cookbook for my resolution that starts with a recipe that has fruit out of season. Well done, Jessica. This novice cook decided to rise to the challenge and give it a whirl. I’m happy to say that my modifications still equaled delicious pancakes! Especially since I’ve never even made pancakes from scratch before.

Being a moderate fan of pancakes myself, I like the challenge of using a recipe that is non-traditional since, to me,  pancakes are a little on the bland side and not the most appealing breakfast food. This recipe had a few unique ingredients (sour cream, cinnamon, and nutmeg), that made me change my thoughts about what a good pancake should taste like. The flavors and smells reminded me more of a yummy peach cobbler then a breakfast dish which was quick to sell me on this recipe!

Okay…here’s the quick run down of the ingredients:Ingredients

1 large egg

1 c. sour cream

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

2 T sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Pinch of ground nutmeg

3/4 c all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 baking soda

Butter for pan (and the top of course)

1 peach, halved, pitted, and very thinly sliced (about 1/8-inch slices)

(modification) 1/2  to 3/4 cup canned peaches sliced thinly (great substitute for real peaches)

(modification) syrup from canned peaches (used to thin out the batter to desired consistency)

HOW I MADE IT:

Whisk together some of the dry ingredients (salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, flour, baking powder & soda) then in a separate bowl combine the remaining ingredients (sugar, egg, sour cream, vanilla). Fold dry ingredients into wet.

Funny looking p-cake 1 because of thicker batter

Funny looking p-cake 1 because of thicker batter

(Recommendation) I didn’t realize until after I started to scoop and pour the batter for my first pancake that the batter was too thick. I decided to add a little of the syrup from the peaches to thin it out. I probably only added 1/4  to a 1/2 a cup, but it helped and the pancake batter did not lose its consistency. I think it actually helped enhance the peach flavor in the cakes. So, if you have to go with canned peaches like I did because you’re making them out of season, might as well use the syrup.

Heat pan to medium low heat and melt a pat of butter.  (Deb recommends a heavy bottomed pan or iron skillet) Use 1/4 cup of the batter to make your pancake. I recommend spraying your measuring cup before scooping to make the batter come out quick and easy.

Place sliced peaches on the top of your pancake and wait for the signs to flip (bubbly center and dry edges). Flip and let it cook through for a few minutes.

Pancake 3Deb recommends heating your oven to 250 degrees so you can keep your pancakes warm until ready to serve.

I was able to make about 7 pancakes with the recipe but she suggests there is enough batter for 8. If you’re anything like me when you’re getting to the end of your batter, the final pancake is enormous. That means I have a huge peach pancake in my fridge for breakfast tomorrow! Which also means, yes, you should be able to get 8 pancakes out of the batter.

WHAT WOULD I DO DIFFERENTLY NEXT TIME?:

Pancake non peach side 31. I would like to have an audience to cook for! It’s so much more fun to cook breakfast for others then just for yourself! My BF David volunteered to be the victim of my next pancake making adventure so I’m sure that will be much more enjoyable as long as I don’t mess it up…which could definitely happen. You’ve been warned ;o) 

2. I would use real peaches! I think the canned peaches were really tasty but cutting them was really hard to do which is why you’ll notice they are all different shapes and sizes in my pictures. Again, no regrets with the canned peaches, but they will look so much prettier with real peaches. The beautiful thing is I have a peach tree in the backyard of the house I’m living in so I’ll know when to try this recipe again!

3. I would try this with other fruits like apples! I love apple cinnamon Pancake done 2anything so it would be fun to play around with the recipes and apples. It might be good to bake the apples to soften them up a bit so maybe that can be done in a pan on the side with butter and cinnamon before they are put in with the pancake batter. I imagine bananas would be good too, but since I refuse to eat bananas (…Lord spare me if there is a recipe in this cookbook with bananas that I have to eat…gah!), I won’t be trying that any time soon.

Final on plate 24. I would drink milk with these p-cakes! They were not as sweet as I was expecting but a tall cold glass of milk would have cut the sweet that was there. I felt jittery for a few hours after but I’m a weakling when it comes to caffeine and sugar. It doesn’t take much and I get the shakes.

5. Though this didn’t make an obvious difference, I would get my measurements correct for the baking powder and baking soda. Almost positive I got them switched around. haha…makes me very happy that I named my blog what I did. I’m not trying to hid behind any fancy title here. Nope! This blog is all about my epic failures and successes in the kitchen so let’s just add this one to the list of failures and learn from my mistakes…haha.

That’s it! I hope you give these pancakes a try. Deb’s recipe won’t disappoint. I don’t think you can mess these up too much but if you do make any changes, let me (the one reader I have :o) know about it so I can give it a try too!

Happy cooking all!

Final with bite